Wilson starts with a win in defence of US Open of Surfing

WITH his "equal aplomb" on the backhand and forehand, and air mastery and carving ability, Julian Wilson and California's famed Huntington Beach break are a good match.

Sunshine Coast-based former national coach Graham Endersby said the above on the eve of the prestigious Vans US Open of Surfing, and the Coolum Beach world title contender duly delivered in his first heat.

The defending champion, coming off a win at the Prime-rated Mr Price Pro Ballito in South Africa, won his opening round-of-96 contest early yesterday morning.

In a Prime event that traditionally draws the biggest crowds in surfing, Wilson had a two-wave total of 14.77 out of 20 to beat a trio of lesser lights, Brazilian Wiggolly Dantas (13.03), American Kanoa Igarashi (12.93) and Canary Islander Jonathan Gonzales (12.10).

Wilson is due to face Brazilians Alex Ribeiro and Willian Cardosa and American Dane Reynolds in the round of 48.

"That's all Julian needs sometimes - a bit of a result to get on a roll," Endersby said in reference to the Brazil triumph, which followed a quarter-final showing at the last World Championship Tour event.

"It's a venue that really suits Julian's rights and lefts ... and there's little walls there. He carves as well. It's a pretty well-rounded wave and Julian tends to do pretty well in those sort of waves."

Fellow Sunshine Coaster Mitch Coleborn, who must fancy his chances of earning a debut spot on the WCT with a good result here, has also advanced to the round of 48, where he meets 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.

In a heat that included the Sunshine Coast's Chris Friend, Coleborn's 12.60 was too good for Friend (9.33), Spain's Aritz Aranburu (10.30) and American Cory Arrambide (8.54).

Another Sunshine Coast competitor, former world top 10 surfer Nathan Hedge, joined Friend as an early elimination.

Also opening in the round of 96, Hedge finished last in his heat with a score of 6.70.

South African Jordy Smith won the heat (13.20).

Coleborn has a world ranking of 20, or No.2 out of the non-WCT competitors.

The top 10 surfers at the end of the season - not including the WCT's top 22 - are guaranteed an elite tour spot for the following year.

Endersby, who coached Coleborn in his younger days, said the gifted 26-year-old goofy-footer had matured as a competitor and had the aerial game to flourish in Huntington Beach's usually smallish conditions.

He finished 17th there last year.

"He's always been there or thereabouts," Endersby said. "He's putting everything together and is probably maturing competitively and is making the right decisions at the right time and has a bit of momentum and a bit of luck (going his way), and that's all it takes."


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